Tuesday, July 25, 2017

No, Donald, You Don't Get to Use Your Son, Either


I have to step away from sports to write about what a disgusting piece of garbage Donald Trump is.

No, this isn't about Russiagate -- at least, not directly.

No, this isn't about the unconscionable speech he made to the Boy Scouts yesterday, which Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, a Scout leader, called "downright icky."

No, this isn't even about blocking Chrissy Teigen, a woman hotter and more talented than Melania or Ivanka, on Twitter.

This is about how Trump used his son Barron.

Members of a politician's family should be off-limits from criticism, unless they, A, are actively involved in said politician's campaign or office; or, B, have done something worth criticizing totally separate from their relative's career.

This is especially true if the relative in question is under age 18, and not yet, legally, an adult.

Example: There was the recent story of Malia Obama, daughter of former President Barack Obama, having turned 18 and thus having surpassed the adulthood threshold, being photographed smoking. It was suggested that it wasn't tobacco, but marijuana.

Conservatives said she was no good, just like her father. Most people said leave her alone, she's an adult, and this has nothing to do with her father.

Brothers of Presidents have, on occasion, been particular embarrassments: Charles Adams (John's son and John Quincy's brother set the tone for alcoholic Presidential brothers), Elliott Roosevelt (though he died before Theodore became President), Ted Kennedy (despite his long and distinguished career in the Senate, and most of the embarrassing things he did were after JFK died), Donald Nixon, Billy Carter, Neil Reagan ("Moon" had a drinking problem at least as bad as Billy's), Roger Clinton, Neil Bush (the savings & loan scandal happened while Daddy Bush was President) and Fred Trump Jr. (though he died well before Donald took the office).

But criticizing a President's family should be off-limits, unless they are actively involved. In recent years, this has meant that First Ladies are often fair game. Eleanor Roosevelt (FDR's wife) started this tradition, but it didn't really catch on until Rosalynn Carter. She received some criticism, but, compared to Eleanor, Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, she got off very easy. So did Barbara and Laura Bush.

Every once in a while, a Presidential relative, often a son, will be actively involved in the Administration. There are many photographs and film clips that appear to show FDR walking, when, in reality, he is leaning on a cane with his right hand, and holding his son James Roosevelt's arm with his left. By offering his arm, James was, despite being on his father's left, literally, his father's right hand man.

During World War II, James got an officer's commission, as a Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps. His brother Elliott was commissioned a Captain in the U.S. Army Air Corps, the forerunner of the U.S. Air Force. Some Republicans thought that they hadn't earned these commissions, and printed up buttons saying, "I WANNA BE A CAPTAIN TOO!"

They ended up with a tremendous amount of egg on their faces: James served in combat, and was awarded the Navy Cross for his service at the Battle of Midway and the Silver Star for heroism at Makin Island. He was a Colonel when the war ended, and rose to the rank of Brigadier General in the Marine Corps Reserve. (Actor Jimmy Stewart was also a legitimate WWII hero, and rose to the rank of Brigadier General in the Air Force Reserve after The War.) Elliott's service was also rather brave (he flew several bombing missions and rose to Colonel), but was touched by scandal.

And the question of James' and Elliott's commissions was quickly forgotten once the Republicans went after, as FDR put it, "My little dog, Fala!" Once FDR delivered that response, the people attacking his family looked like not just partisan hacks, but idiots.

John Eisenhower, later an Army General in his own right, an Ambassador and one of the leading military historians of the 20th Century, was an aide to his father Ike. Steven Ford worked on his father Jerry's 1976 campaign. George W. Bush worked on his father's 1988 campaign and, for a time, in his Administration. None of them were seen, in those capacities, as having done anything particularly wrong.

The Trump situation is different. He appears to be highly dependent upon on, in descending order of use, son-in-law Jared Kushner, daughter Ivanka, son Donald Jr. and son Eric. The three children of his 1st wife, Ivana Trump, and Ivanka's husband. Daughter Tiffany, from his 2nd marriage, to Marla Maples, is now 23 years old, and appears not to be a part of the Administration in any way.

Barron, the son of his 3rd wife, Melania, is now 11 years old. By law, he couldn't work in his father's Administration even if he wanted to. But since when does The Donald give a damn about laws?

Barron is the spitting image of his father, right down to having the hairstyle Donald had in the 1980s. Not the one Donald has now, lucky for Barron. On the other hand, looking so much like him, Barron will never be able to say, "No, I'm not related to those Trumps," or, "I was adopted."

A few months ago, actress Rosie O'Donnell, who has had a feud with Trump running since 2006, suggested that Barron might be autistic. The evidence she suggested was, at most, circumstantial, and, as far as is publicly known, the boy is not autistic.

Trump, as he so often does, because he is less mature than his son, had a fit. Once he finished trashing Rosie, he went on a tirade about how his son is off-limits.

Fair enough. Barron is a kid. Unlike his half-brothers Donald and Eric, his half-sister Ivanka, and Jared, he is not involved in his father's Administration. He is not fair game. Leave him alone.

The problem is this: It goes both ways.

Donald Trump, as both the boy's father and as the President of the United States, has every right to say that his son does not deserve public criticism. He has the right to say that his opponents should not be permitted to use his son for political purposes.

But the other side of the coin (to use a money metaphor, which our illegitimate leader would appreciate) is that the President should not be permitted to use his son, or any of his relatives, for political purposes, either.

I'm not talking about appearing by his father's side at last year's Republican Convention, or at the Inauguration. That's fine. Indeed, it's expected that a Presidential nominee's relatives should be on the podium in the arena at the end of the Convention as the balloons come down and the campaign's theme song is played. And, if successful, it's expected that a President-elect's relatives should be on the podium at the Capitol as the Oath of Office is delivered and the Inaugural Address is spoken.

I'm not even talking about attending special events at the White House, like state dinners or major speeches. If Barron wants to attend those, and Donald Sr. and Melania say it's okay, I don't have a problem with that.

At least, in concept. In practice, well, it depends on how much the son acts like the father. A well-behaved boy at a state dinner might please the foreign guests of honor. A tantrum-thrower could cause an international incident.

Last week, cameramen caught Princess Charlotte throwing a tantrum as she, her brother George, and her parents William and Kate were trying to board their plane at Hamburg Airport following a state visit to Germany. Even princesses have "the terrible twos." Barron is not 2, he's 11, but has never been caught misbehaving in public. Unlike his father and his half-brothers.

But at 6:52 this morning, Trump went on Twitter, and used his 11-year-old son as a political shield.

He is not fit to be President. He isn't even fit to be a father.

No comments: